Severe solar storm could impact technology, here are ways to prepare

(FOX40.COM) — A severe solar storm, known as a geomagnetic storm, is making its way through the earth and officials said the astronomical event may impact technology.
•Video Above: Rare solar storm and northern lights hit Earth

A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These storms produce significant changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere.

On Friday, NOAA warned the public about a severe geomagnetic storm that recently hit the earth and will have effects that last through the weekend and into next week. The last time a solar event of this magnitude (G5) happened was over 20 years ago.

According to the National Weather Service, communications, global positioning systems, power grids, spacecraft, satellite navigation, and other technologies may be affected. In addition, users of high-frequency radio signals may experience loss of signal.

On Saturday, officials said the storm caused what appeared to be only minor disruptions to the electric power grid, communications, and satellite positioning systems, so far.

The last solar storm of this intensity occurred in October 2003. It caused power outages in Sweden and damaged power transformers in South Africa. The current storm could rival the intensity of the 1859 Carrington event, which caused disruptions to global communications and set telegraph stations on fire, according to earth.com.

How to prepare for an extreme geomagnetic storm

“Space weather can have an impact on our advanced technologies, which have a direct impact on our daily lives,” NWS said. “To begin preparing for the potential loss of electrical power in an extreme geomagnetic storm case, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.”

NWS offered other ways to prepare for severe solar storms:

•Stock up on essentials and don’t wait until stores are empty or closed.
•Fill plastic containers with water and place them in a refrigerator or freezer.
•Keep vehicle gas tanks at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
• Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger.
• Keep a non-cordless phone in your home because it will work without electricity.

Although preparation is recommended, NWS said the vast majority of NOAA Geomagnetic Scale 5 level storms (G5) will not cause catastrophic damage to the electric grid.

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